Patrick Sharp set up Marian Hossa for the tieing goal in the final minute of regulation time and then was credited with the game winner in overtime as the Blackhawks edged the Canadiens 3-2 Wednesday night in Chicago.
It was scoreless until the game’s 48th minute when Dale Weise it up. Chicago’s Jeremy Morin answered just over three minutes later. The Habs Francis Bouillon quickly answered that goal 27 seconds later to make it 3-2 thus setting the stage for the last minute Chicago rally.
Shots on goal were 30-28 in favour of the Hawks. The RDS three stars were Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford, Sharp and Peter Budaj.
The single point gave the Canadiens 98 for the season, three ahead of Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division. The Lightning again have a game in hand.
Adding It Up –
All Things Considered – A hard but honestly-earned point. No Carey Price. No Markov & Emelin. No Lars Eller (flu). No Alex Galchenyuk from the game’s third minute and Ryan White was missing for most of the game. Still, for the first two periods even with those gaping holes in their regular roster, the Canadiens played the type of hockey that wins more often than it loses in the playoffs, and the Canadiens game has been in playoff mode for the last month.
Western Conference Hockey – I’m sure there are some awful pieces of hockey entertainment in the NHL’s Central and Pacific divisions from time to time, we just never seem to see those games. This one opened fire-wagon style. At the 1:12 mark of the first period, play was halted by an off-side. For the next 7:20 the teams went end to end through ten shift changes without a whistle until Budaj froze the puck at 8:40. Over that span there were 15 shots on goal, nine of them by the Canadiens and eight hits. Can’t get much better than that.
The Hit – Forty seconds into the game, the Hawks Andrew Shaw finished a check on Alex Galchenyuk against the boards inside the Canadiens line. Clean all the way but it may have caught him the wrong way. Two minutes later Galchenyuk was back on the ice and this time Marian Hossa fell into his left leg. Take your pick. The Hossa check gets my vote. It was Galchenyuk’s last shift of the game. Suspected wonky knee. We’ll have to wait for a verdict until Canadiens doctors take a look tomorrow but he left the United Center on crutches.
Scrambling – With Therrien’s best laid pre-game plans effectively out the door in the third minute, he started to move his forwards around. Brian Gionta, who started the game with Bourque and Briere, found himself back with Plekanec. Briere wound up playing on five different line combinations; Plekanec four. And somehow through all of this only White, besides Galchenyuk got less than ten minutes ice time.
Thrown Into It – Dale Weise missed six games with that arm injury -Josh Gorges, 15. There was no chance of easing them back into action. Gorges got 21 minutes, recorded six hits and blocked three shots. Weise wasn’t even scheduled to start but wound up in the lineup when Lars Eller came down with the flu. Weise had a busy night with 21 shifts and 15:43 including 1:49 penalty killing time. He spent most of his night on the Canadiens second best line with Bourque and Briere. And I should mention, it was Gorges who drew first assist on Weise’s goal which opened the game’s scoring.
Had His Chances – With any luck Max Pacioretty could have had his league leading fourth hattrick of the season. The puck rolled off his stick on a clear breakaway in the second period. In the third period he was set up perfectly in the slot and Corey Crawford somehow got his glove on it. And then just after Hossa had tied the game, with 20.2 seconds remaining in regulation time, Pacioretty had the open side and somehow Crawford dove across to stop him. Those were just three of his six shots on goal. So, it’s still 39 goals and counting.
Also Worth Mentioning – ……Don’t you wish Rene Bourque would give us the effort he put into this game in four out of five nights rather than once every five nights. In the end, three shots and some hard work in the corners highlighted his night. …..Peter Budaj, who was making only his third start in 13 games, was very good despite the winning goal which he basically accidently put into his own net. Barring injury, it probably was his last start of the season including playoffs. ….Thomas Vanek got another assist and was almost as dangerous as Pacioretty. Between the two of them-10 shots on goal. …..Without Andrei Markov in the lineup, P.K. Subban had, by far the most ice time at 23:51. That’s his most in five games. It might have been more but the Canadiens didn’t get a power play opportunity in the game. One shot, 4 blocked shots and 3 hits. He was minus-2….No complaints about the work put in by the two rookie defensemen Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu.
Where We Are – The Canadiens pick up a single point to bring their total to 98 with two games left. Tampa has 95 points with three games remaining against Philadelphia and Columbus at home Thursday and Friday and in Washington Sunday. In reality, because of the ROW tie breaker the Lightning are four points behind the Canadiens. A Habs home win over either the Islanders Thursday or Rangers on Saturday would give the Canadiens 100 points and force the Lightning to win out their final three games to take second place in the Atlantic Division.